Abstract Reuse

I am relatively new to DITA but a very old hand at xml/sgml.

Technically, I am creating a dita bookmap which includes a bookabstract. I would like to create the topic for the bookabstract by (in part) reusing all of the associated chapter topic abstracts. However, I can not see a way of using a conref for multiple abstracts out of context.

Practically, I just want to be able to pull all of my abstracts into an introduction for the book.

Am I using the wrong strategy for reuse? Any suggestions would be welcome.


You could try creating a set links (in the related-link element) with role="child". That will pull in the title and shortdesc of the target chapters. If your target chapters only have an abstract element, and no shortdesc, you could consider adding the shortdesc within the abstract to identify the bits you want pulled into the overview/used generally as link previews.

For HTML output, you could manage the link creation via the map, but that probably won't work in PDF (depending on what PDF output process you're using). So links with role="child" could be the safest bet.

Alternatively, you could reuse bits of the abstract directly into the overview topic, by targetting the elements inside of the chapter abstracts. For example, you can't pull an <abstract> into body content, but you can pull <p> or <ul> elements, which are both allowed inside <abstract>s.

Hope this helps - if it doesn't, consider asking on the dita-users mailing list. (Check its archives for similar answers first). 

 Michael Priestley

Thanks for the tip Michael.

I will look into the role=child as it appears to present few obstacles given the flexible use of shortdesc for block and inline.

I had already considered the reuse of abstract children at the para and list level and that is when I thought I should reach out for help. It seemed silly to contrive numerous children for reuse when I have intention of pulling the whole abstract.

Thanks again for the tip. At least it confirms my interpretation of the voluminous DITA language spec.


Fellow Torontonian

Phil Robitaille

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